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EDITIONS
Friday, 24 August, 2001, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Tory expelled over BNP row
Iain Duncan Smith and Edgar Griffin
Iain Duncan Smith sacked Edgar Griffin from his team
The Tory activist sacked from Iain Duncan Smith's leadership team for his links to the far-right British National Party has been expelled from the Conservatives.

Acting Tory chairman David Prior said the action was taken against Edgar Griffin for "assisting the British National Party", of which his son Nick Griffin is chairman.


It's really a knee-jerk reaction and I can hardly believe it's happened

Edgar Griffin on his expulsion
Earlier Mr Duncan Smith called on rivals to stop making political capital out of the controversy, which saw Edgar Griffin sacked from being a vice president of his Welsh campaign.

Mr Griffin's wife Jean stood for the BNP against Mr Duncan Smith at the last election and he has a membership phone line installed in his house.

But he denies being a BNP supporter and says he has been a Tory member since 1948.

However, Mr Duncan Smith made his view clear when he told BBC News: "I in my constituency and elsewhere have fought these people - I loathe everything they stand for."

Party warning

He also issued a warning that if he became Tory leader the party would take "direct, rapid and decisive action" against anyone holding similar views.

In the expulsion statement Mr Prior described the BNP as an "extremist, nasty organisation", adding: "We repudiate them utterly and unequivocally."

Mr Duncan Smith went on: "Somebody in the Welsh Conservatives knew about this man's connections and chose to keep it quiet and to use this for political capital at a moment of their own choosing.

Nick Griffin
Edgar Griffin's son is BNP chairman Nick Griffin
"Then, members of my opponent's team have very quickly jumped on the bandwagon, seeking to make political capital out of this.

"I have fired this man the very moment I knew about it."

Speaking later on the campaign trail in Ipswich, Mr Duncan Smith accused his opponents of a "two or three day campaign of vilification and smears".

Conservative vice chairman Steve Norris, a prominent supporter of leadership rival Ken Clarke, has said Mr Duncan Smith's "whole stance" attracted people like Mr Griffin.

He warned against the party becoming a "xenophobic, racist rump".

Expulsion welcomed

Later a spokesman for Mr Duncan Smith said they were "delighted" at Mr Griffin's expulsion, while leadership rival Ken Clarke said he was "extremely glad" at the move.

However, Mr Griffin told BBC News he was "very, very taken aback and terribly disappointed because it's based really on a misunderstanding".


I have fought these people in the BNP and I will have nothing to do with them

Iain Duncan Smith
"It's really a knee-jerk reaction and I can hardly believe it's happened."

The 79-year-old has insisted he is not a BNP supporter, but said some of their policies were "very very sound".

"I think the Conservative Party would do well to consider those in the same way that Blair has taken Conservative economic policy."

During a series of media interviews on Friday he spoke out in favour of funding voluntary repatriation for immigrants, a BNP policy.

Asked if he thought he had now damaged the Conservative Party Mr Griffin replied: "Not in the slightest, no, absolutely not."

John Townend, the former Tory MP who sparked a row before the general election with controversial comments on immigration, said party members could be broadly Conservative but have "divergent views".

It was dangerous to start "witch hunts", he told BBC Radio 4's the World At One.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"Conservative central office have announced Edgar Griffin is to be expelled from the party"
The BBC's Wyre Davies
reports on the political storm in Welshpool

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24 Aug 01 | UK Politics
24 Aug 01 | UK
24 Aug 01 | UK Politics
24 Aug 01 | UK
24 Aug 01 | Wales
23 Aug 01 | UK Politics
11 Jul 01 | Wales
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